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Smartest Thing Kliff Can Do...

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

...is to channel his inner McVay.

Namely, by taking McVay’s 10-12 most successful bread and butter plays and incorporate them into the Cardinals’ offense.

McVay’s offense is predicated around his off-tackle running game —- which can be run to either the strong or weak side of the formations —- while often run off of tricky jet sweep motions.

Bread and Butter Off-Tackle Runs

  • Did you notice how the Rams play-side TE first stood up to see which side the DE Kerry Hyder (#92) would go and then how the TE sealed down on Hyder when he crashed inside (something the Cardinals’ edge players do way too often)?
  • Did you notice how play-side slot WR Cooper Kupp sealed off his man to the outside, thus creating a wide running lane for RB Cam Akers?
  • Did you notice how the Rams backside guard (LG) was able to slip to the second level to make a key block on ILB Fred Warner, which allowed Akers to be off to the races?

But —- here’s the catch with the Rams’ off-tackle plays —- those plays are primarily run with his QB under center, because it sets up the bread and butter play action bootlegs and waggles that McVay has been torturing the Cardinals’ defense with game after game.

No Cardinals’ defense has consistently stopped either the off-tackle runs or the play action bootleg and waggle plays, where the TE runs a zig-in (to decoy the run), zig-out (to break wide open to the sideline, while the flanker (Robert Woods usually) runs a “hide and sneak” route across the formation from behind the line of scrimmage to where he comes out wide open in the opposite flat.

On every bootleg play, there is a built in run option for the QB once the QB breaks contain —- f his primary and secondary targets are covered —- this was how Rams’ QB2 John Wolford broke down the Cardinals’ defense by extending drives with his legs.

Imagine Kyler Murray running the Rams’ bread and butter plays.

Imagine Kyler Murray over center and running play action passes —- no one could see him or pick him up very quickly. Check these 5 play action plays and imagine Kyler throwing them:

Play Action Combo Routes:

  • Did you notice the third and five play where WR Cooper Kupp and TE Tyler Higbee ran “in-routes” past the sticks at different speeds, where Kupp’s initial in route drew the attention of the safety, which opened up the door for Higbee to fake an out route ( in order to buy time and space) then pivot and peel back to a safety-free middle?
  • Did you notice the screen pass to Todd Gurley amidst all kind of misdirection?
  • Will the Cardinals finally be able to run a screen pass? Well. this one is made to order, because it creates a clearer, more diagonal passing lane for Kyler Murray.
  • Did you notice the fake jet sweep action Robert Woods ran where he hid behind the line for a second off of the play action, then pivoted, turned and ran a flare pass to a now vacated side of the field? This is one of the many wrinkles that Sean McVay has in his jet sweep package. Very clever, isn’t it?

Jet Sweep Package

Note: Kliff Kingsbury already has his own jet sweep package and there are some tangible similarities, but there are also some wrinkles that we have yet to see Kliff employ.

  • Did you notice on the first couple of plays how the jet sweep motion created havoc for the defense to where the RB was able to gain chunk yards via a counter step cutbacks through the guard/tackle hole (B hole)?
  • What the Rams’ OL are very good at is allowing the DL to commit themselves and then once they do, the OL rides them in that same direction, thus creating huge straight-line holes or gaping cutback holes. (Cardinals need to get stronger at this “influence and ride” blocking technique).
  • Did you notice how easy the play action “dig route” was behind the linebackers? This is precisely what the Cardinals need to do more of when so many defenses are repeatedly stacking the box.
  • Did you notice the fake jet sweep play action into a “three man flood” which resulted in an excellent completion to the slot WR on an intermediate corner route?

Why Integrating the Rams’ Bread and Butter Plays Would Be Super Smart:

  • Using Kyler over center (Rodney Hudson, yeah baby!) more often is going to make things very difficult for defenses, not only in diagnosing the plays, but in trying to pick up and locate Kyler.
  • These plays are extremely difficult to defend even for the best NFL defenses.
  • Kyle Shanahan in SF runs variations of the same plays and packages, plus Shane Waldron (passing game coordinator under McVay) is now the Seahawks’ OC.
  • Thus, perhaps, the smartest reason of all to run these packages, is —- think of how this would better prepare the Cardinals’ defense in prepping against all three of their rival offenses in the NFC West.